Red Deerians are invited to lend a hand this week and learn about the food forest being developed in their city.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, from 5 to 7 p.m., people can join the Canada 150 Edible &Pollinator Garden Tour and Volunteer Planting Party.
In 2016, ReThink Red Deer received a $23,000 Heritage Canada grant in honour of this country’s 150th birthday for its 15,000-sq.ft. food forest and pollinator garden.
The edible forest is on a tract of stressed land between the Red Deer landfill and a Red Deer County industrial park and is part of the on-going five-year Piper Creek Restoration Agriculture Project.
The property, located south of the landfill on the east side of 40th Avenue, once contained a livery stable and farm. After being annexed by the City of Red Deer as setback around the landfill, it was most recently used for public garden plots.
Rene Michalak, who’s leading the project, said 150 varieties of edible, medicinal and pollinator plants and trees will be planted in a forest structure that is being protected by a deer fence. Probably 50 to 75 plants and trees will be in the ground by the end of the week.
“It’s a least a two-year calendar to fully install the food forest. What we want to make sure is that the bigger trees are fully established first,” Michalak said on Monday after volunteers worked on building the fence and spread some mulch.
He said this week’s public sessions will educate people about what they can grow in their own backyard and they can pick up some eco-gardening tips.
“We want to show things that they had no idea could grow here actually grow very well if you follow the right techniques. Some of the more lesser known trees are apricots, plums, the variety of apples available to us.”
He said the food forest may be one of the biggest in Canada that could eventually draw tourists and become a local gathering space.
Piper Creek Restoration Agriculture Project also includes a pollinator garden and volunteers will be needed to help plant in June.